Virgin Rec. Laura Marling : I Speak because I can (UK,2010)****'
Now and then I stumble upon a songwriter who’s voice, music and songs stand out a lot against more selfcentric-driven folkies and pop corns. Only 17/18 at her debut, now just 20 this sounds more mature than ever. The less than 40 minutes album is taken by a big label and produced professionally by Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams, Paolo Nutini, Rufus Wainwright), backed by the band Mumford & Sons (who released their own cd this year too). Laura’s voice is at times smoked by emotion, varied in expressions, with a couple of nice vocal overdubs fitting with the songs, backs herself with fitting pickings. The band with instruments like banjo, drums and viola pushes the emotions to a convince-the-public loudness, while she herself tempers them with a more quieter focused and inspired lyrical and singsong honesty of expression with darker elements of realisation, at times with a hangover to melancholy. A song like “Rambling Man” shows tonal variations in her singing that are comparable to an early acoustic Joni Mitchell whom she admires, “Darkness descends” with vocal overdubs has a lighter Americana accent. There are up tempo moments and sad songs. The arrangements, voice, songs and sounds are all convincing. The songs are never very long so the album is quickly over. Recommended.
Both albums of Laura were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. I have noticed there also exist a Deluxe CD/DVD edition.